I WENT on the TransPennine Express to Stalybridge, near Manchester, in search of a pub. I walked up terraced streets in the rain, past the Rose and Crown (Vaux), the Old Fleece (John Smith's) and the British Protection (free house). At the corner of Astley Street I came to a brick pub whose long green sign ran the length of the front wall. It was 1.30pm and the Old Thirteenth Cheshire Astley Volunteer Rifleman Corps Inn (Webster's and Wilson's) was just opening. I was alone at the bar. 'We get a few strangers,' the landlady said.
In 1881 the landlord was a Mr Parrott, whose interest in the rifle corps gave the pub its name. It was built in 1857 to serve the mill workers. But times change. The rifle corps was disbanded years ago, and detached houses are creeping up the hill.
The Rifleman is at Ordnance Survey grid reference SJ 963980.